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Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2009

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"Powder Blue" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

movie-october-2009-powder-blueSynopsis

Set in LA in the days leading up to Christmas, four strangers with their own burdens wind up crossing paths.  Rose Johnny (Jessica Biel) is an erotic dancer trying to earn enough money to save her dying son.  Charlie (Forest Whittaker) is an ex-priest grieving over the the loss of his wife.  Qwerty (Eddie Redmayne) is a very shy mortician on the verge of losing his funeral home.  Jack (Ray Liotta) is an ex-con looking for some kind of emotional connection before cancer takes his life. Little do they know that a complete stranger holds the key to their salvation.

 

Specifications

  • Image Entertainment
  • 1999, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 46 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta, Eddie Redmayne, Forest Whittaker, Kris Kristopherson, Lisa Kudrow, and Patrick Swayze
  • Directed by Timothy Linh Bui
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Explicit

Commentary

In.the same vein as "Crash," "Powder Blue" takes completely separate story lines and ties them together in the film's final act.  The performance by all four leads was strong, as were the supporting roles played by Lisa Kudrow and Patrick Swayze.  In my opinion, the filmmakers pushed far too hard to show the emotional anguish of each character, which made for a rather depressing viewing experience and some over-the-top lines.  Pacing was a bit slow, but at least they took the time to flesh out the individual characters.  Despite the great acting, the story felt a bit flat, which ultimately kept this from being a great film. However, if you are a fan of films like "Crash" or just want to see Jessica Biel topless, you may want to give this movie a whirl.

Technical

Picture quality was very inconsistent throughout the film.  Most scenes were very soft, looking more like standard definition as opposed to HD.  There was excessive film grain visible in many scenes (i.e. the scene towards the end where Jack appears to be in Heaven), which further marred the picture quality.  Some of the close-up shots were sharper, but not all.  Black levels were poor, with most scenes only reaching down to dark grey instead of black.  The lighting used was different for each character (done intentionally as you learn in the commentary track) so color tones are all over the map.  Certain scenes displayed blooming and color-banding as well.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack was much better than the video, and helped set the somber mood of the film.  There are some dynamic moments that allow the soundtrack to shine, particularly the strip club sequences and a trip into a trans-sexual populated dance club.  Having spent some time DJ'ing house and trance music myself, I can tell you that they captured the sound of the club just about right.

Extras

Extras are pretty light on this disc, with just a standard audio commentary, a making-of featurette (in SD), a photo gallery of still shots from the movie, and a the original trailer for the film.